So my friend Vanessa has done it again.
First she told me about advent calendars and got me thinking about all the ways I could make a Hanukkah calendar filled with traditions for every night of the holiday.
Then she told me about Hanukkah Helpers and of course I had to investigate. That’s them on the left – aren’t they adorable?
Hanukkah Helpers are made by Elf Magic, a company that has been making Christmas elves for some 50 years. Their Christmas elves arrive after Thanksgiving and stay until Christmas, becoming friends with the children of the house and causing all sorts of mischief each night to the delight of their new pals. Elf Magic added Hanukkah Helpers to their collection more recently, and though the helpers are not elves they are nevertheless “great companions during the day [who] often surprise children during the night with mysterious and unpredictable adventures.”
Our own Hanukkah Helper arrived a few days ago and has already setup shop on our Hanukkah mantle. I let him out of his travel box while the munchkin was sleeping and had fun reading the “instructions” he came with. Here’s a brief summary:
- Food: Hanukkah Helpers love to snack on crackers and water every night, which give them energy for all sorts of nighttime mischief. Every night you should leave out a snack for them.
- Snowflakes: They also need to be sprinkled with “snowflakes” each night, which is actually white paper confetti that comes in a small container with the Helper. The snowflakes make him magically come alive.
- Mischief: Every night, while the family is sleeping, Hanukkah Helpers can’t resist exploring their new home. They’ll often get into mischief and you’ll catch them red-handed the following morning. (I have lots of ideas for this, see below.)
- Gifts: During the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah Helpers can bring a small gift that fits inside their Snowflake Gift Sack. This is a medium-sized blue velvet bag that could easily fit a small board book or a couple Thomas trains, which is what we’re going to put inside the bag on Helper gift nights. :)
- Returning Home: When Hanukkah is over, the Hanukkah Helper must return home. He can leave a goodbye note for his new friend – and of course, one last act of mischief! The tradition will resume next year when the Hanukkah Helper returns.
In addition to these instructions the Hanukkah Helper also comes with a lovely story to introduce himself to your child. It begins: “I’m a Hanukkah Helper your own special friend, to be here with you til the season ends! Let the dreidels start spinning and the latkes start turning. Oh… I can’t wait to see the candles burning!”
As you can see, the concept behind the Hanukkah Helper is similar to the Elf on the Shelf in that they both cause mischief at night and disappear after the holiday they are celebrating with you. But Elf Magic has done a nice job of making the Hanukkah Helpers Jewish. From his enthusiasm for Hanukkah traditions, to his blue and white clothing, our Helper is going to add a cute (if mischievous) element to Hanukkah this year. We have a boy Helper but you can also get a girl Helper and even buy different outfits for them on Elf Magic’s site. (We got an Arctic Play outfit for our Helper!)
So here is what I have in mind with regards to Hanukkah Helper mischief:
Hanukkah Helper Mischief Ideas (Before Hanukkah)
- Ride one of my son’s big dinosaurs (maybe the T-Rex)
- Steal my iPhone and take a bunch of pictures of himself
- Make a big LEGO house and hide in it (inspiration)
- Color this wintertime picture of Winnie the Pooh (inspiration)
- Get stuck, upside down, in the cookie jar
- Play with my son’s toy cars (I’ll line all the cars up and put one in the Helper’s lap like he’s playing with it)
- Have a mini marshmallow snowball fight with Winnie the Pooh (inspiration)
- Make a snowman with jumbo marshmallows (inspiration)
Hanukkah Helper Mischief Ideas (During Hanukkah)
- Light the Menorah: Well not light really, but sit next to one of our menorahs with a shamash in his lap, all ready to kindle the Hanukkah lights.
- Snack on Gelt: For this one I’m going to eat several pieces of gelt (shucks) and sit the Helper in the middle of all the golden wrappers with a few extra pieces of gelt scattered around him.
- Make Latkes: Our son has this wooden Hanukkah set, so I’m going to make it look like our Helper is making latkes for a midnight snack.
- Read Hanukkah Books: I’ll sit our Helper on the couch and surround him with the munchkin’s Hanukkah books, then put one in his lap like he’s reading it. (Our favorite Hanukkah book right now is The Hanukkah Mice, so probably that one.)
- Spell Hanukkah in Hebrew: Using cheerios, our Helper might be inspired to practice his Hebrew spelling with חֲנֻכָּה
- Play Dreidel: I’m going to give my son’s Pooh doll and the Helper a stack of gelt each, then put a dreidel between them as if they are playing the dreidel game.
- Eat “Donuts”: I saw this picture of cheerios made to look like tiny donuts on Pinterest. Done and done. Hanukkah Helpers need donuts too!
- Sugar Snow Angels: We’ll have to do this one the night we make our Hanukkah beignets. It’ll be like our Helper just can’t wait for the sugar dusting to begin. (I’ll probably use regular sugar though since it will be easier to clean off.) (inspiration)
Next year our Helper will have to make an entrance like this! (Wish I’d thought of it this year.) And of course, we’ll have to give him a name. But I’m waiting for the munchkin to come up with that. :)
Find out more about Elf Magic’s Hanukkah Helpers here.